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July 2012 Issue
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Complete an overnight mountain bike ride

Riding the St James Cycleway. Photo: Dave Mitchell
This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series Lift your game
Think you’re a good tramper, sea kayaker, climber, mountain biker and skier? Shift your horizons with one of these game-changing adventures


You have: Done a day ride like as the 42nd Traverse or Coppermine Saddle.

You want: An overnight trip staying in a backcountry hut.

The Trip: St James Cycle Trail to Anne River Hut fits the bill perfectly.

The ride: Stunning snow-capped mountains, crystal clear trout-infested rivers, historic huts, acres of golden tussock, beautiful beech forest and sections of great single-track riding make this a memorable trip.

Your first step is to download the excellent St James Conservation Area pamphlet from the DOC website and check out the map on the second page. The ride starts from the Maling Pass parking and camping area below Lake Tennyson and the exit point is the St James Homestead car park, some 80km distant. A car shuttle avoids the gravel road section of 27km.

The ride climbs gradually to the top of Maling Pass, revealing a stunning view of the Spenser Mountains. The descent into the Waiau Valley is exhilarating. You have two choices of route, one goes across the river and down the true right bank and the other is a purpose-built cycle trail that wanders along the true left bank. Either way you eventually head west up the Henry River Valley to the 20-bunk Anne River Hut. The hut is positioned for the sun with great views up and down the valley.

The next day, retrace your tracks to the Waiau River and head south up a short steep climb that wanders along river terraces to the Pool and Old Bridge huts on the true right. Cross the second of the trail’s swingbridges and continue along the true left bank over Charlies Saddle. It’s an easy cruise from here down the Edwards Valley but one grunty climb punctuates the end. You can exit straight ahead to Tophouse Road or take the Peters Pass Track to the St James Homestead car park.

You’ll need: A well-maintained bike preferably with latex-filled tubeless tyres. Any hard tail or full suspension rig is fine. Take two spare tubes and puncture repair kit, multitool/chain breaker and quick joining link, tyre levers and pump. Carry your personal gear in the smallest lightest pack you can or download some of the weight onto a rear rack/carrier. It’s possible to use panniers on this ride, but they’re not ideal.

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